As the Notre Dame Irish prepare for the BCS National Championship Game on January 7, they are seemingly the ones with the advantage. The amount of time off, the ability to watch the SEC Championship game for both Alabama and Georgia's weak spots and the No. 1 overall ranking in the BCS figure to be good omens for a team looking for its first national title in the BCS era.
However, the Irish are in a position to be heavy underdogs by the time January rolls around. As reported first by CBS Sports' Jerry Hinnen, the Irish would be underdogs to five out of six SEC teams.
Kelly Tilghmanitted against the top six SEC schools, and the results aren't great for Notre Dame. Alabama would give the biggest difference at 9.5, but the only team out of the top six in the SEC would be South Carolina.
As Russ Mitchell of Fox Sports reports, maybe it's not that big of a surprise. Irish fans would beg to differ, of course.
Looking ahead to the BCS National Championship Game, that doesn't bode well for Notre Dame. Regardless of who wins the SEC Championship, Notre Dame will be in trouble in the spread department.
Georgia will have slayed the mighty Alabama, boosting its status on national polls. Alabama already has a 9.5 point advantage and the game hasn't even started yet, so give the national audience another month to analyze this situation even further.
Fair or not, the SEC schedule will trump anything Notre Dame can put out there.
The Irish's big wins have come over opponents that haven't fared well over the rest of the season. A win over Michigan State is now meaningless. As is a win over USC, a game that was in doubt during the final minutes despite the Trojans being without Matt Barkley.
After looking at Georgia and Alabama's schedules, the argument is clearly there that the Irish haven't faced the gauntlet the way these two teams have.
Should the Irish be favorites or underdogs on Jan. 7—opponent not withstanding?
Slip ups for both SEC championship contenders happened against Texas A&M and Florida, two teams in the Top 10 of the rankings and both from the SEC.
Lucky for the Irish, they don't care about spread information or whether or not they have to play the role of underdog.
Led by Manti Te'o, Brian Kelly and a defense that refuses to quit in the fourth quarter, they'll happy fly under the radar. Teams have underestimated the Irish all season, and each time they leave South Bend, they head to their locker room as losers.
Even as the No. 1 team in the nation, people aren't ready to concede that Notre Dame is back in the national power conversation.
They'll have to prove it on the field.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.